Kaci Hickox, a nurse who treated Ebola patients in Sierra Leone, strongly criticized the new quarantine measures, which were imposed by New York, New Jersey and Illinois on all travelers coming from Ebola-affected countries in West Africa.
The 33-year-old nurse, returned back on Friday through New Jersey’s Newark, complained about her treatment under a mandatory 21-day quarantine, describing how she was made to feel like a criminal.
Hickox said she was stopped at Newark Liberty International and was questioned over several hours after touching down Friday. She said none of those who questioned her would explain what was going on or what would happen to her
“This is not a situation I would wish on anyone, and I am scared for those who will follow me,” Hickox wrote in a column for The Dallas Morning News.
“I am scared about how health-care workers will be treated at airports when they declare that they have been fighting Ebola in West Africa. I am scared that, like me, they will arrive and see a frenzy of disorganization, fear and, most frightening, quarantine.”
New Jersey health workers claim that after arriving the nurse had developed a fever, the next day however, she was tested negative for Ebola.
the nurse had developed a fever after arriving, but on Saturday, they said her blood had tested negative for Ebola. Additional tests will be conducted. Nevertheless, hospital officials would not say whether she would remain in the hospital for the entire 21-day, state-ordered quarantine period or be moved to another location.
Ms. Hickox disputed that she had had a fever. She wrote that at the airport, a forehead scanner showed her temperature to be 101, but that came after four hours during which she had not been allowed to leave.
“My cheeks were flushed, I was upset at being held with no explanation,” she wrote. “The female officer looked smug. ‘You have a fever now,’ she said.”
After being escorted by police to University Hospital in Newark for further examination, another doctor confirmed Hickox’s words, as her temperature dropped to 98.
The ordeal, Hickox wrote, was particularly painful given what she experienced on her last night in Sierra Leone.
“I was called in at midnight because a 10-year-old girl was having seizures,” she wrote. “I coaxed crushed tablets of Tylenol and an anti-seizure medicine into her mouth as her body jolted in the bed.
The decision for a 21-day quarantine for travelers arriving at airports of New York, New Jersey and Illinois was taken on Friday. The governors’ decision came a day after Craig Spencer, a Doctors Without Borders physician who had recently returned to New York from Guinea, tested positive for Ebola. Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn soon followed suit with a mandatory quarantine in his state, reports the Huff Post.
It already came under fire, as critics worry the policies, going beyond federal regulations and intended to ease public concern over the spread of the disease, will just make matters worse.